When the novels begin, most people live in a technology and culture roughly comparable to that of Europe's 1450 to 1600 (with the difference that women are socially equal to men in most societies, and superior in some), in fear of a prophecy that the Dark One will break from his prison and the Dragon will be reborn to face him.
The prequel novel New Spring takes place during the Aiel War and depicts the discovery by certain Aes Sedai that the Dragon has been Reborn.
The Wheel of Time is notable for its length, its detailed imaginary world, its well-developed magic system, and its large cast of characters.
The eighth through fourteenth books each reached number one on the New York Times Best Seller list.
The Aes Sedai also become divided on how to deal with the Dragon Reborn.